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Friday, September 9, 2016 - 1:03 PM by Chris Pike
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THE hardest job of any coach is telling deserving players that they have missed selection and that was never more true than last week for West Perth's Bill Monaghan and it will be no easier this week as he weighs whether or not changes are required.

West Perth came into the qualifying final with South Fremantle last Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval in good form having won 12 of the last 15 matches following a 1-4 start to the season to qualify in third position on the WAFL ladder.

But Monaghan needed to find room for Tyler Keitel, Steve Potente, Dean Munns and Shane Nelson in the team and that meant some difficult selection decisions needed to be made.

Vice-captain Laine Rasmussen, former captain Luke Tedesco and regular league players Drew Rohde and Aidan Lynch were among the players didn’t make the final 22 and were forced to watch on as South Fremantle beat West Perth by 52 points.

The good news is that the Falcons have a second chance and get a home final to try and bounce back taking on Peel Thunder at HBF Arena this Sunday in the first semi-final.

West Perth has won its last 12 games against Peel and the last 11 clashes with the Thunder at HBF Arena including a 109-point qualifying final last year.

But this Thunder side is much different and will feature up to 18 Fremantle-listed players including Matt de Boer, Shane Yarran, Zac Clarke, Darcy Tucker, Ed Langdon, Alex Silvagni, Sam Collins, Michael Apeness, Nick Suban, Connor Blakely and Tendai Mzungu.

But West Perth coach Monaghan is focusing on his own playing group and for the most part will be backing in his players that played in last Saturday's loss to South Fremantle to bounce back given their proven track records.

But with the likes of Rasmussen, Tedesco, Rohde and Lynch waiting in the wings for an opportunity, Monaghan knows he has some difficult decisions to make and at least some of those proven performers all of whom played in last year's grand final will come in to play on Sunday.

"They were very close to playing last week and it was gut-wrenching for them and hard news for me to deliver that they weren’t playing. Laine is vice-captain of the football club, and Lynchy and Drew have played a significant number of games over the last two years," Monaghan said.

"But selection is one of the toughest things you do and then telling the players is even tougher. Will all of them play, will none of them play? It's just too early to say but I would think if you were a betting man at least some, if not all of them, would play."

Monaghan expects all 22 of his players that took the field last week against South Fremantle to be available for selection to take on Peel this Sunday which means some tough selection decisions again need to be made.

He knows it's not possible to drop everyone who underperformed against the Bulldogs but he and his coaching staff need to carefully weigh up which of those who didn’t play will help them against the Thunder.

A lot of that could come down to Peel's personnel and with the potential of the Thunder going with three ruckmen Zac Clarke, Jack Hannath and Jonathon Griffin as well as Michael Apeness, that might force West Perth's hand in terms of selection in some ways.

"There's just a couple of little niggling things, nothing that at this stage that looks like it would cause any reason for players to miss. The biggest dilemma is that if we dropped everyone who didn’t perform to the standard we want then not too many players will hold their spot," he said.

"It's always a conundrum when you get beaten easily whether you make wholesale changes or if that was our best 22, then it can't change too much in a week. We did go in with one extra tall defender and it probably didn’t help us so we need to make sure we pick the right side to match up against their talls.

"Over a period of time, probably the last two years, Peel has been a really tall side against us. They left Jonathon Griffin out on the weekend and played Clarke and Hannath, but really up forward their only other genuine tall was Apeness.

"Down back their talls got on top of East Perth once they lost Fraser McInnes. It's about getting the right number of talls and then playing guess work all week over if they will bring Griffin in or not.

"We have to get that balance right and we'll pick the best side we think can beat them up here on a lovely oval in what looks like it's set to be nice weather."

Taking on a Fremantle-boosted Peel is nothing new for West Perth given the Thunder have had a strong contingent of Dockers players in the majority of their meetings in recent years aside from last year's qualifying final.

West Perth has prevailed in each of those contests albeit some of them have been heart stoppers including a remarkable one-point come from behind win back in 2014 when Anthony Tsalikis kicked the winning goal.

So Monaghan is looking forward to the challenge that Peel will presents but is fully aware the Falcons need to be at their best if they are to advance to a preliminary final against the loser of Sunday's second semi-final between Subiaco and South Fremantle.

"Apart from in that final last year when they only had three, we've actually copped them with between 14 and 16 Fremantle players four out of the last five times we've played them," Monaghan said.

"We welcome that challenge and we can't control that, we just need to make sure that our effort and hunger for the contest is better than it was on the weekend.

"Whoever they put out there is who they put out there, but you will see a different side take the park for us this weekend and hopefully that will be enough to get over the top of them."